(By Balaseshan) Priceline.com Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN), a provider of online travel services, reported an increase in quarterly earnings on a 32.9% growth in gross travel bookings as well as strong hotel bookings. Adjusted earnings exceeded market expectations, sending its shares up 4.80% in aftermarket.
Earnings were $288.66 million or $5.63 per share for the fourth quarter, up from $225.72 million or $4.41 per share last year. Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) rose to $6.77 from $5.37.
Revenue grew 20.2% to $1.19 billion.
Analysts, on average, polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a profit of $ 6.54 per share on revenue of $1.19 billion for the fourth quarter.
In the previous third quarter, the company posted adjusted EPS of $12.40 on revenue of $1.71 billion.
Merchant revenue increased 5.9% to $472.35 million, while agency revenue jumped 31.9% to $715.06 million. Other revenue rose to $3.23 million from $2.85 million.
Fourth quarter gross travel bookings, which refers to the total dollar value, of all travel services purchased by consumers, were $6.6 billion, an increase of 32.9% over last year (about 35% on a local currency basis).
International gross bookings increased 40.4% (43% on a local currency basis) to $5.49 billion, driven by strong hotel results at Booking.com and Agoda.com and continued growth at Rentalcars.com.
Hotel business booked 46.2 million room nights in the fourth quarter, 37.6% higher than last year. Rental sales grew 36.5% to 7.2 million car days, while Airline sales rose 1.7% to 1.4 million tickets.
Looking ahead into the first quarter, the company expects adjusted earnings of $4.90 to $5.30 per share and revenue growth of about 17% to 24%, while Street predicts profit of $5.14 per share on revenue growth of 19.30%.
Priceline.com said concerns related to sovereign debt and the viability of the Euro have negatively impacted historical operating results and are likely to impact future results. Given the uncertainty surrounding worldwide economic conditions, particularly in Europe where much of the company's business is concentrated, it believes the variability around its forecast is elevated.
PCLN closed Tuesday's regular session up 1.03% at $678.49. The stock has been trading between $553.42 and $774.96 for the past 52 weeks.